Day 23: Whitford Canyon to Reavis Pass

Storm Clouds over Desert Mountains

It’s time I take my hydration a little more seriously. At least that’s what my body insisted today through painful expression.

The day started off chilly, in fact a little cold. I ate my breakfast and then opted to procrastinate longer than usual until the sun peeked over the horizon for a bit of warmth.

I began up the remainder of Whitmore Canyon, the bigger mountains deceptively smooth, making them seem a little smaller than they actually are. There was a lot of good water in the creek, but I decided to continue ahead since there would be more water up the trail.

But that’s when it hit me. My body didn’t like the idea of pushing dehydration so much. There was a sharp pain from my abdomen, specifically my kidney area. Then I put it together. Too much consistent dehydration could easily produce a kidney stone. The pain was intense. I had to unbuckle my waist strap on my backpack since even mild pressure was too much. There was no way I could continue with my backpack like that, so I immediately began to question the future of the trail. I walked in pain to Mud Spring, fortunately less than a mile away and immediately began filtering some water. I dropped a Nuun tablet into the first half liter and chugged it down. The pain vanished right away.

When I was hiking with Second Lunch, he had the not so brilliant idea of just waiting till you’re very dehydrated, then drink all your water at the next water source, then get just enough water to get you to the next water spot. Fortunately I took his advice with a grain of salt (which ironically helps your body rehydrate). But in feeling that pain today, I think I know why I haven’t seen him since. He also hadn’t filtered any water either, so that might have also played into it.

I drank another liter of water, then got two more for the trail ahead. I’m done trying to cheat water from my weight. The pain never came back, so I luckily managed to dodge a bullet – or a stone in this case – and was able to continue hiking the trail uninterrupted.

Superior Beyond Desert Mountains

I was soon climbing up a steep and strenuous mountain to the top of a pass that looked much closer before the climb started. The elevation came very quick and I found myself overlooking the canyon I was just in, and even Picketpost Mountain to the south. New peaks of the Superstitions began appearing to the east, larger mountains even farther beyond. The air cooled off. The clouds began building up. Rain was pouring farther to the north, a great sign for the near future. The Santa Catalinas marked off the southern horizon far in the distance. There was more green grass the higher I climbed. The trees grew denser. And then clouds began threatening rain.

Just before I reached the saddle, I met another thru-hiker going the other way, only he was hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail. We got to talking and it turns out he was from Sheridan, Wyoming. We had a good conversation before we went our separate ways on our individual adventures. The saddle was shortly after that where I stopped on the other side overlooking the western Superstitions, and had a big lunch. I included lots of water.

As I moved on, I felt a few sprinkles on my head. Feeling them pick up, I quickly repacked my bag to be rain proof. There was also a cold breeze, so I put my fleece on under my rain shell. As soon as I had everything ready with my backpack back on my back, the sun came out. It was still chilly though, so I just kept going.

The trail started following a 4×4 road which passed through a really pretty oak and juniper forest. It was in here that I began to get way too hot and opted to finally shed the extra layers.

Oak Tree Abstract

At the other end of the forest, the trail made a turn west and in the distance to the north were the Four Peaks, closer than ever! These marked the next big destination, so it was exciting to see them so dominant on the horizon.

A bit farther below I met another John at the Roger’s Trough Trailhead. He told a pretty interesting modern-day legend about someone who found gold in the Superstition Wilderness, but denied it due to the permitting process he’d have to go through to make it a legal find. John seemed to enjoy telling the story and insisted he didn’t believe the guy, and I just enjoyed hearing all about it, serving as a small break from hiking.

I started down the canyon where I was happy to see lots of water along the way. I was soon heading up toward Reavis Saddle where I would ultimately camp for the night. Along the way, bushes blanketed the mountainsides, producing dozens of different types of leaves. It was fascinating to see all the diversity in one small area. Fat leaves, stringy leaves, smooth leaves, pointy leaves, no combination seemed to be left out.

After setting up camp at the saddle, two other hikers, Dirt Nap and Gizmo joined me for the night. I was a bit ecstatic to have some company for a change and we enjoyed chatting with each other around a small stove fire before calling it a night.

Once they were tucked away and I was getting a couple quick night shots, there was some growling and hissing coming from the woods just a few dozen yards away. Dirt Nap and Gizmo even heard it too. We never did figure out what it was, but it did keep me wondering as I fell asleep. My only guess, which Dirt Nap half-jokingly/half-seriously suggested, was that it was a female cougar in heat. They apparently have screams that send chills down the spines of the most rugged and tough cowboys. It definitely fit that description.

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